Haaretz reported today that from the start of the second intifada in September 2000 through December 2011, the human rights group B’Tselem filed 57 complaints over soldiers who allegedly did not stop such violent attacks on Palestinians. Few appear to have been followed up. The latest was filed after a filmed incident on Saturday.Saturday’s filmed confrontation between the residents of Asira al-Qibliya and settlers from the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar is not the first incident in which Israel soldiers witnessed clashes between Palestinians and settlers but did not intervene.
According to the military prosecution, Israeli military legal officials are handling 15 complaints of soldiers who allegedly stood by without responding as Palestinians were beaten or attacked by settlers.
Such complaints generally come from human rights groups such as Yesh Din and B’Tselem.
The first place the army looks when trying to determine the circumstances of an incident is the operation log submitted by field officers. According to the prosecution, in most cases the soldiers reach the site only after a clash between the two sides has begun. In such a case, soldiers are required to restore public order by separating the two sides and distancing them from the area.
From the beginning of the second intifada in September 2000 through December 2011, B’Tselem filed 57 complaints regarding IDF soldiers who allegedly did not prevent violence against Palestinians or their property. The prosecution has told B’Tselem that investigations have been opened so far into only four of those cases, two of which were closed with no action against the soldiers.
Of the complaints made in the past five years, only one has resulted in a criminal probe. Many of the cases are still in the pipeline years after the incidents occurred and the soldiers involved completed their service.
Yesh Din says it has been following up on 20 complaints of soldiers’ non-intervention.
In the past, reserve soldiers have said that when confronted with such situations, they might manage to come between the two sides but can’t do much to prevent further clashes. Some say that if they do interfere, they are insulted and even cursed by the settlers.
‘You think that your biggest problem will be with the Palestinians, but in the end it’s with the Jews,’ an officer previously told Haaretz.
The military prosecution said that it ‘checks each and every complaint individually and updates the complainant and his representative as to its status.’